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How a Screwed Up Time in My Life Turned into a Sweet Surrender


image of teenager standing behind older woman as they look at books on a table

This chapter of my life living out here on the road has changed me.

I am not your typical 64-year-old mother-come-nanny.

You won’t find me sitting in my recliner in the lounge room surrounded by family memorabilia — you know, all the comfy stuff — busy cooking or knitting for grandchildren.

That’s because I’m a few thousand kilometres away from what I once called home, far from my children, grandkids and friends.

Every few weeks or months, I move interstate to a new town, surrounded by strangers, to caretake homes and pets owned by people I’ve barely met.

I can go days, sometimes weeks, not engaging with anyone face to face. That guy checking out my groceries at Aldi may be the highlight of my week!

Volunteering with a local Water and Land Cleanup group and signing up for a month’s worth of Bikram Yoga is about as close as it gets to contact with local folk.

My car is packed chockers with what I need to live this nomadic lifestyle.

It’s a life choice that works for me right now.

Suffering changes us

For ten of the thirty-seven years, I was married, my husband was in an affair with another woman. I won’t go into the details here because I’ve written about it — a bit here, a bit there — in other articles on Medium.

My relationship with my adult kids wasn’t always healthy. I suspect they, in a way, blamed me for their father’s infidelity. I know they weren’t getting the whole truth, but with no voice at the table, there wasn’t much I could do.

When my divorce came through last year, I felt the time had come to re-examine what was important in my life. Where did I belong — now?

There’s a point where suffering changes us. And last Christmas was the tipping point for me. My children decided to hold a huge family Christmas Eve gathering like we used to do when the family was whole. They made space at the table for their father. But my invitation never came.

Something inside me stopped resisting the utterly exhausting life changes that were upon me. I felt ready to choose peace, forgiveness and spiritual growth.

New beginnings

So, I downsized most of my furniture on Marketplace. Maybe I was hasty, but it felt right off-loading it all. My daughter got to pick what she wanted, and local charities got the rest. I put only the essentials in storage.

I handed my real estate agent the keys to my rental and moved into a share house an hour’s drive away. My two housemates, in their thirties, were super fun to hang with. Being in their company, well, it shifted some of the sadness in me. I’d secured a contract working from home out of my bedroom, so I should have been content. But I wasn’t.

How could I find joy and contentment when it felt like the love in my world was contracting?

Taking myself away from the wreckage of my old life to get perspective felt like the next logical step.

I remained open to living this next chapter in another state. That was a consideration on the table. And part of the why I chose to housesit for several months.

The other reason was that I wanted my children to lean into me.

In a very open and touching conversation with my eldest daughter after Mother’s Day, she asked, “Mum, why did you just up and leave us — leave your grandchildren”?

Her perspective came as a surprise to me. I’d made time before I left to spoil every one of them, including all my nine grandchildren. I hugged them close and shared how much I loved them. As a mother and nanny, what more could I do.

I was honest with my daughter and told her how Christmas had gutted me. And while I wasn’t placing blame, I wanted her to know next Christmas would be an opportunity to do it differently.

What matters most?

I’m flying home for ten days to hang with my daughters and precious grandkids in a few weeks. They sound like they are super excited I’m coming back.

How long I stay out here on the road in search of the meaning of my life and the direction it will take is undecided. I haven’t booked any housesitting gigs beyond September 2022.

I’m mindful that it gets bloody lonely being so far away from the people who matter most in my life.

And I think in terms of what I’ll regret when I’m older, and these precious opportunities to do better are behind me.

Wishing you all lots of love and light on your journey.

Catherine (Cat) Farrar




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